Home Darts How To Play: Around the Clock Darts

How To Play: Around the Clock Darts


Darts. It’s many things to many people. To most of us it’s a decent pub or club sport that kills a bit of time when we’re out enjoying a few bevvies. To others, it’s a ridiculous game for boozy blokes with beer bellies. And to a small minority of people, it’s a full-on lifestyle. You’ve only got to see just how enthusiastic spectators get at big tournaments. And the TV viewing figures? Rapidly rising. Darts is getting to be a big deal.

We’re guessing you know the basic rules of darts and have probably even thrown a few in your time. But unless you’re naturally gifted, as well as some sort of human abacus, 501 darts can be a bit of a trial. Sometimes you want to just chuck a few arrows and not frustrate yourself missing the treble 20 all the time. Not to mention all the mathematical acrobatics you have to perform. And for those occasions, why not have a game of Around the Clock…?

The Rules

The great thing about playing Around the Clock? It couldn’t be simpler. Well, alright, it could be. But it’s pretty darn easy as it is. Also known as Around the World, the idea is nice and straightforward: You go round the clock (or world). Forget about tallying up points here. There’s only one number to remember – the number you’re on.

You take it turns to throw three darts, as in the normal version of the game we know and love. But instead of aiming to accrue as many points as possible, you’re aiming for specific numbers. Starting with one and then two and then three… And so it goes. You throw into the numbered segment. Once successful, you move to the next number. Keep going until the you hit the 20 and then go for the bullseye. Bag all twenty numbers and then the bull and you’ve won!

You can’t proceed to the next number until you’ve hit the number you’re aiming for. Throw three and miss with each dart and you’re in trouble – your opponent could race out in front. Doubles and trebles are ignored. Hit one and it just counts as the original number. And that’s pretty much it. See? We told you it was easy.

You can flip a coin to determine who goes first, but we prefer the classic left-handed throw nearest the bull to sort the men from boys (or women from girls, of course). The player throwing first has the advantage, what with it being a race. So you could always allow the weaker player to throw first. If you’re sporting. Failing that, you could play it in rounds and score a point for the player who’s progressed furthest in each round of three darts. It’s up to you.

Dart Board
You’re throwing a one, then two, then three, then… Well, you get the idea.


It’s unlikely that you and your playing partner will be exactly as skilled as each other. Normally, one of you will be slightly – if not hugely – better than the other one. And when that’s the case, getting hammered every leg isn’t going to be a great deal of fun, is it? So why not equal things up a bit? Set a handicap. The easiest and most straightforward way of doing it is to limit the board for the advanced player. If they’re really excellent, only allow them to hit trebles. If they’re very good, only doubles and trebles. You can hammer out an agreement on what’s allowed and what’s not. Just don’t fall out about it. Those arrows are sharp, y’know.

See For Yourself

You’ve heard how it goes, now watch a master in action. Don’t worry if you’re not quite as good as this chap here when you play Around the Clock. This is the world’s best dart player, after all. So let’s get to it. Here’s Dutch legend Michael van Gerwen showing you how to play Around the World. Watch and learn…

Steve Charnock A freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card. Follow him on Twitter or follow him into the pub and buy him a drink.